… Integrity Commission briefed on Warner
The Integrity Commission, chaired by former media magnate Ken Gordon, might offer the best chance of investigating the machinations of Minister of Works and Infrastructure and ex-FIFA vice president, Jack Warner.
Wired868.com, through local civic-minded groups Fixin’ TT and the Transparency Institute, sent copies of an affidavit from Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) general secretary Richard Groden, which accused Warner of collecting bribe money from disgraced ex-Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Mohamed Bin Hammam in his ministerial office and fraudulently representing the TTFF in FIFA matters.
If Groden felt, at the time, that Warner’s days in public officers were numbered, he was mistaken.
Warner dusted off several scandals since his departure from FIFA last year in the wake of a bribery scandal and was recently re-elected chairman of the United National Congress (UNC)—the dominant political party of the ruling People’s Partnership coalition government.
The former TTFF Special Advisor left the football body virtually bankrupt and a leaked letter to Wired868 suggests Warner also tried to manipulate State funds, just two weeks ago, to bully the cash-strapped Federation.
The TTFF has openly accused Warner of diverting funds meant for football into bank accounts under his control. And Warner did not return any money when he quit all FIFA posts last June at the height of the scandal that overshadowed the 2011 FIFA presidential elections.
FIFA has stopped funding the TTFF too after complaining that $1.6 million (US$250,000) wired to Trinidad on 20 January 2010 to aid earthquake-stricken Haiti went missing. The South Korea FA also donated $3.2 million (US$500,000) in relief funds but the Federation of Haiti Football (FHF) alleged that Warner passed on just $381,000 (US$60,000).
Again, the TTFF pointed the finger at Warner although the MP insisted that the aid money was not misused. FIFA is yet to rule on Warner’s defence due to “the volume of the evidentiary material provided” by him in February 2012.
At present, Warner’s FIFA pension remains suspended.
In Warner’s wake, the TTFF is also being pursued by 13 members of the 2006 World Cup squad and the Port of Spain High Court for accounting statements related to the Germany 2006 tournament. Warner promised half of all World Cup revenue—estimated to be no less than $180 million (US$28 million)—to the “Soca Warriors” but, in September 2006, the entire squad about $130,000 (US$20,000) to share instead.
The London-based Sports Dispute Resolution Panel (SDRP) and the local High Court both ruled in favour of the players.
The TTFF made one interim payment of $7.04 million (US$1.1 million) last year but is yet to make a second payment of $4.2 million (US$656,000) that was due to the Warriors ten months ago. And, in February 2012, the players seized all removable assets from the football body’s Port of Spain headquarters.
Ex-national football coach and former Porto and Glasgow Rangers playmaker Russell Latapy is among several former staff members who have also started civil proceedings against the TTFF based on contracts negotiated on its behalf by Warner. Latapy’s suit is for over $6 million (US$1 million).
The TTFF’s financial travails mean that the football body depends on the government for survival but a leaked letter to Sport Minister Anil Roberts suggested Warner is not above threatening to liquidate the association altogether.
Thus far, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has refused to probe Warner, despite allegations that the MP collected an illicit payment of $243,200 (US$40,000) in his ministerial office.